$85,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Knee Injury With Potential CRPS

Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Williams Lake Registry, assessing damages for a chronic knee injury.
In this week’s case (Anderson v. Shepherd) the Plaintiff suffered a “major injury” to his knee when he was struck by the Defendant’s vehicle crushing his knee “between the car door and the frame of the vehicle“.  Fault was admitted focusing the trial on damages.
The Plaintiff’s knee injury required surgical intervention and resulted in chronic pain.  He was diagnosed with potential Complex Regional Pain Syndrome because of his knee trauma.  His pain symptoms were expected to linger indefinitely.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $85,000 Mr. Justice Davies provided the following reasons:

[58] Although the medical opinions differ with respect to whether Mr. Anderson may suffer from complex regional pain syndrome because of the injuries to his knee, and also whether patellar maltracking was caused by or made symptomatic by the collision, I am satisfied by the totality of the evidence that the knee pain Mr. Anderson has suffered and continues to suffer, as well as the mobility issues he has experienced and continues to experience, are genuine and were all caused by the collision.

[59] I am also satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the negative effects upon Mr. Anderson’s life arising from the left knee injury were caused by the collision and the defendant’s negligence, and would not have occurred but for that negligence…

[75] My consideration of the totality of the evidence in this case leads me to conclude that:

1) Mr. Anderson will have ongoing symptoms with his knee indefinitely which will remain relatively constant at their present level with a tendency to improve over time, rather than worsen.

2) Mr. Anderson is likely to have difficulties with activities requiring a great deal of knee flexion such as kneeling, squatting, climbing stairs and walking up hills.

3) No further surgical intervention will assist in alleviating Mr. Anderson’s existing knee symptoms.

4) Mr. Anderson will not likely develop accelerated osteoarthritis because of the injury to his knee.

5) Mr. Anderson is not disabled from work as a driver if he obtains a Class 1 licence, but will be required to take breaks to rest his knee if he drives for long periods of time.

6) The injury to his left knee will likely require Mr. Anderson to take more pain medication to relieve his pain than he was taking to alleviate the chronic pain associated with his low back pain caused by the 2004 motor vehicle accident.

84] Mr. Anderson has suffered a serious and debilitating left knee injury. It was acutely debilitating for approximately six weeks when he could do almost nothing other than rest. While his condition improved thereafter, that improvement was not sufficient to allow him to resume all of his previous activities either at home or outside the home, his home life and relationships with his wife and children suffered badly, and he was unable to work because of his injuries.

[85] Surgery on his knee in March 2010, more than a year after he was injured, helped to alleviate his difficulties to the extent that by his own assessment his improvement has now approached 70%. The evidence establishes that it is likely that his symptoms have stabilized at that level and are not likely to worsen over time.

[86] Even at their present recovery level, Mr. Anderson’s injuries require him to endure pain that must be treated with increased levels of medication beyond that which previously alleviated his chronic low back pain that arose from the 2004 motor vehicle accident. His ability to enjoy life because of his compromised physical abilities is seriously diminished. He has now suffered and endured his losses for more than three years. As a young man who is now only 30, Mr. Anderson will suffer them for most of his adult life.

[87] After considering the totality of the evidence and the principles enunciated in Stapley, and the authorities to which I was referred by both counsel, I have determined that an award of $85,000 is necessary to appropriately compensate Mr. Anderson for his non-pecuniary losses.

Anderson v. Shepherd, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, CRPS, Mr. Justice Davies

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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